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Is CAA A Partition Of Hopes, Dreams And Aspirations Of Indian Muslims?

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India was on the verge of shutting down with a slumping economy, unemployment, worst of schools, shut down of all small to big scale factories and mills, with no list of solutions. During such troublesome times, when the nation expected a miracle for their never-ending daily life issues, an Act named ‘Citizenship Amendment Act‘ was introduced as oil in the burning fire.

The CAA was as usual welcomed by some and not by others, but it didn’t end this casually. This Act, as stated on papers, grants nationality to all the religiously persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from three countries, namely Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; who entered India before December 2014. This Act apparently excluded the Muslim section of the secular, democratic and independent India.

Even the introduction of this law by the Centre became discriminatory when a minority remained unintroduced, leaving a burning mark of shame on the soul of the Constitution. India is a nation with around 200 million Muslims, which is the second-largest majority in the world.

Exclusion of a community with such a solid figure by its government questions the security and dignity of that community. History has witnessed Muslim participation in the freedom struggle at a large scale. Despite the Partition, some believed in Gandhi and stayed, but never to witness another partition, a partition not just of the land, but of hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the Indian Muslims.

Many political parties, social activists, scholars, and lawyers condemned this unjust Act and even petitions were filed by lawyers against it. The main argument laid down by the government to support this Act was that a major section of the non-Muslims are persecuted in these three countries and some false data was also presented in the Lower House in its support. Citizenship defines the relationship between the nation and the people who constitute the nation.

It confers upon an individual certain right such as protection by the state, right to vote, and right to hold certain public offices among others, in return for the fulfillment of certain duties or obligations owed by the individual to the State. The Constitution of India under the first part of Article 15 assures no discrimination on grounds of race, caste, sex or religion to any of its citizens and proves this Act to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. Even here the government seems to no have shame and stands bold and brazen in its support.

This Act has raised many questions whose answers are still awaited by some thoughtful souls. 

What About The Athiests? 

 Atheists are the most persecuted fellows in any country. Their exclusion from this Act raises a big question to their security. Even past data and facts are enough to prove their persecution. In many countries, including Bangladesh, they are banned from laying down their views on religious matters under the act of blasphemy. While there is no law against apostasy in Bangladesh, cases of persecution of apostates are reported.

Many atheists and secular Bangladeshis who treat Islam “disrespectfully” have been attacked, including Humayun Azad, the target of a failed machete assassination, and Avijit Roy, who was killed with a machete. Many bloggers and human right activists have also been killed for just practicing their right to speech. 

Why Should Any Minority Be Excluded From Any Act Presented In The Nation?

The Constitution of India bestows equal rights on every minority, and promises consideration in every step taken in the nation’s advancement. Democracy means to put the minorities first, but here, all the tables seem to have turned upside down. 

What Will Be The Consequences Of The Country’s Demographics?

Assam has witnessed many demographical changes in the past. Yet, the consequences of the NRC in the State are unimaginable to bear. More influx of these migrants would lead to a disappearance of culture, with the seven-sister States being the epicenter of this process. 

With A Slumping Economy And No Jobs For The Present Citizens, How Will The New Members Be Satisfied? 

The present scenario is enough to predict the future plight of our nation: more unemployment, roofless citizens, increment in the number of hungry stomachs, and the list goes on. When the government is unable to feed the present citizens, then how the upcoming ones can expect the same facilities for them? This would lead to nothing but an emergency of food, jobs, basic amenities and a lot more. 

What Would Happen To The Security Of Our Nation? 

With all of this, the worst impact would be on our intelligence wings and a big question mark to be put on how safe will be our country from these three neighbours. This Act creates a lot of ease for other intelligence forces to breach our national privacy by joining our wings through this act. 

And the list goes on with many questions and no answers. 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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